What if you’ve never stepped foot in a computer science class, but you want your child to know how to code? It can be difficult to pass along information you don’t have yourself. Luckily, No Starch has published a set of Scratch Coding Cards to help anyone get started with MIT’s coding site.
The cards come with a brief booklet to get the child acquainted with the Scratch editor and then launches into a series of activities, one per card.
The first task is to choose the first letter of your name and then code it to change colour. The second card causes that letter to spin around, clockwise. Once the child is comfortable with small elements of building a game, such as moving a sprite, the cards get a little more complicated. The cards teach how to make a simple racing game, add music, or make sprites appear and disappear.
It’s a great getting-started activity, one that you can hand to a child and they can do themselves. My only complaint about the cards is that there isn’t an explanation of why. The cards have the potential to teach coding concepts but they stop short of providing the user with useful information applicable to future games. Kids learn tasks using the cards, but without an explanation, it will be a big jump for young users to transfer what they’ve done into unique projects. They’ve learned how to replicate, but they haven’t learned how to think and problem solve.
Still, it’s a great first step for a new coder, especially for teachers in a busy classroom who want to provide STEM activities that can be completed without input. The cards state that they’re for 8 and up, but I think kids much younger would find these helpful.
Pick up your own set of No Starch’s Scratch Coding Cards.
I was given a sample set of cards. Opinions expressed here are my own.